Meet the WSAJ Staff
Executive Office & Administration
As executive director of the Washington State Association for Justice, Liz Berry brings a lifelong connection to the trial bar and a history of fighting to empower people. She is also a seasoned political operative and an advocate for women in leadership.
Berry assumed the position as executive director in June 2016. She previously served as WSAJ’s Associate Director of Government Affairs and Communications since 2013. In that capacity, she advocated for the organization’s legislative priorities in Olympia and Washington, DC, working to safeguard our state’s workers’ compensation system, expand Mandatory Arbitration (MAR) and protect consumers against fraudulent medical liens, among other issues.
As the daughter of a trial lawyer, Berry is committed to building on WSAJ’s prestigious legacy as one of the nation’s most respected legal watchdogs -- protecting access to the civil justice system for consumers and injured citizens. Her vision is simple: expanding WSAJ’s innovative offerings through seminars, networking and advocacy is paramount to ensuring WSAJ remains relevant to its 2,400 plaintiff injury attorneys in the region. Recruiting the next generation of WSAJ trial lawyers is her top priority.
Berry is no stranger to political campaigns and big battles. Prior to WSAJ, she managed three separate campaigns here in Washington state. She is the former Legislative Director to U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-AZ.
Berry has served on the boards of numerous organizations dedicated to recruiting women into leadership positions including Women Under 40 PAC, Women’s Funding Alliance and the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington. As the former president of the NWPC-WA, Berry injected new energy and ideas to recruit and engage younger women and women of color. During her presidency, she doubled membership, tripled Political Action Committee (PAC) fundraising and recruited a new board that reflected the next generation of women in politics.
She is a graduate of American University in Washington, DC, where she studied communications, legal institutions, economics and government. She and her husband Michael Hill live in Queen Anne with their son George.
Suone Cotner has served as deputy director for the Washington State Association for Justice since 2008. She previously worked as WSAJ’s development director beginning in 1997. She brings a lifetime of national and state political and fundraising experience to her work.
Suone is responsible for managing and growing WSAJ’s prestigious EAGLE program and WSAJ Foundation. In order to safeguard our civil justice system, WSAJ relies on the support and leadership of member attorneys and legal professionals. The EAGLE program sustains WSAJ’s powerful government affairs program that educates the Washington State Legislature and Washington’s congressional delegation on civil justice issues. The Amicus program, supported by the WSAJ Foundation, ensures that WSAJ’s voice in the courts delivers a legacy.
In 2006, WSAJ honored Suone with its Alvin Anderson Award for her critical role in raising $6.8 million to defeat an anti-consumer measure (I-330) that hurt injured patients.
She is a senior advisor to all of WSAJ’s political work.
Prior to working for the Association, Suone was president of the Mt. Baker Group, a fundraising and public affairs consulting company. Her clients included congressional and state candidates, trade associations, and non-profit organizations throughout the United States. As a professional development director, she routinely trains and advises progressive organizations on fundraising strategies.
She served as a top aide, lobbyist and strategist in Washington, DC, for more than a decade. She later launched her own public affairs consulting firm, the Mt. Baker Group, here in Washington state before coming to WSAJ. She is the former executive director of ERAmerica, a national coalition of organizations working to pass the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
She currently serves as a board member for Fuse Washington, one of the state's largest progressive organizations. She remains politically active, volunteering for various groups active in advocating for civil justice and women’s issues.
Suone lives with her husband, Tim Cottrell in Seattle. When she is not working, you might spot her on a sailboat, travelling to Europe as an amateur wine taster or enjoying the view out of her cabin on Hood Canal.
Government Affairs Director
Larry Shannon is the government affairs director for the Washington State Association for Justice, since 1994. He oversees WSAJ’s state and federal legislative, electoral, and public affairs priorities. Larry has helped WSAJ’s 2,300-member attorneys build WSAJ into one of the nation’s leading justice advocacy organizations.
As a respected thought leader and ally for legal and consumer protection advocacy programs throughout the U.S., Larry enlists WSAJ members who are among the region’s top law firms and attorneys to help shape WSAJ’s legislative priorities. In 2005, he was recognized by Washington Law and Politics magazine as one of the top five lobbyists in the state. He has written numerous articles for consumer and political magazines addressing legal, political and consumer issues.
Larry has been a top strategic advisor to the American Association for Justice (AAJ) and state justice organizations nationally. In 2014, he received the prestigious AAJ Partner of the Year Award for his vigorous advocacy for AAJ and the civil justice system. When he is not representing WSAJ before the Washington State Legislature, Larry travels throughout the state to meet with WSAJ’s prestigious Eagle members who are responsible for sustaining WSAJ’s highly regarded government affairs program.
Larry formerly served as WSAJ’s development director and public affairs director. He spent six years working in the consumer protection division of the Washington State Attorney General's Office. He has served as special liaison to the Washington State Bar Association Board of Governors from 1994 to 1998. He is a board member of Washington Community Action Network, Washington CAN, the largest consumer organization in the state, and is also involved in numerous community groups.
A native of the Seattle area, he graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in political science and history. He lives in Seattle with his wife Jan Simonds. They have three grown children.
Larry is an avid coach and advocate for youth sports. He is president and founder of the Ballard American Legion athletic program. When he’s not working on his cabins on Indianola, Larry can be found in a coffee shop schooling friends and colleagues on the merits of case law, history, basketball and baseball. In fact, when it comes to coffee and lively conversation, Larry is a lot like baseball. There are no limits. There are only innings.
Executive Director Emeritus
Gerhard Letzing, CAE, has led the Washington State Association of Justice as its executive director since 1986. Under his direction, WSAJ has become one of the foremost civil justice organizations in the nation. He is credited with launching innovative programs that have made WSAJ a standout professional association and trusted community ally for consumers and injured citizens. More than 2,400 WSAJ attorneys and legal professionals help consumers and injured citizens across Washington and the Northwest region.
Gerhard has spearheaded WSAJ’s commitment to delivering advanced resources and strategies for the region’s top law firms, attorneys and legal professionals to better serve the citizens they represent. His commitment to protecting citizen access to the civil justice system is grounded in a lifetime of community organizing and a passion for justice.
In 2006, Gerhard received WSAJ’s prestigious Pillar of Justice award for leading WSAJ’s campaigns to defeat major anti-consumer ballot measures. In 2005, the American Association for Justice (AAJ), the nation’s largest attorney organization dedicated to protecting access to the civil justice system, recognized Gerhard's for his commitment to the trial lawyer community by presenting him with the AAJ Partnership Award. In 1990, he was recognized for his tireless work on behalf of Washington attorneys and consumers and honored with WSAJ’s President’s Award. He is a past president of the National Association of Trial Lawyer Executives (NATLE) and certified association executive (CAE).
Gerhard is highly regarded as a leader in the nonprofit community. He received the Rhinoceros Award from the Washington Society of Association Executives for his professionalism and commitment to non-profit organizations. Prior to his work at WSAJ, Gerhard founded and directed the state’s largest consumer-rights nonprofit, Washington Citizen Action Network.
Gerhard earned a degree (Abitur) in business administration from the Friedrich List Wirtschaftsgymnasium Kassel, Germany and a BA in urban planning from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. He resides with his wife Eunice in Seattle and has two grown daughters and is the proud grandfather of Jonathan and Elise. He is the Bundesliga’s most loyal Seattle fan.
Olympia Office Manager
Membership & Development Associate Director
Seattle Office Receptionist
Website & Systems Administrator
CLE Associate Director
Spokane Office Manager
Government Affairs Consultant
Development Administrator & Accounts Receivable
The WSAJ staff takes pleasure in responding to the needs of members.
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